U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Seal of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.svg
Consumer Product Safety Commission's seal
Agency overview
Formed1972; 47 years ago (1972)
HeadquartersBethesda, Maryland
Agency executives

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or Commission) is an independent agency of the United States government. The CPSC seeks to promote the safety of consumer products by addressing "unreasonable risks" of injury (through coordinating recalls, evaluating products that are the subject of consumer complaints or industry reports, etc.); developing uniform safety standards (some mandatory, some through a voluntary standards process); and conducting research into product-related illness and injury.[2] In part due to its small size, the CPSC attempts to coordinate with outside parties—including companies and consumer advocates—to leverage resources and expertise to achieve outcomes that advance consumer safety.[3] The agency was created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act. The agency reports to Congress and the President; it is not part of any other department or agency in the federal government.[4] The CPSC has five commissioners, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for staggered seven-year terms.[4] Historically, the Commission was often run by three commissioners or fewer.[5] Since 2009, however, the agency has generally been led by five commissioners, one of whom serves as chairman. The commissioners set policy for the CPSC. The CPSC is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.[1]


The commissioners of the CPSC are appointed by the U.S. president and with the consent of the U.S. Senate. As with some other U.S. federal independent agencies, commissioners are selected as members of political parties. Although the president is entitled by statute to select the chairman (with the consent of the Senate),[6] no more than three commissioners may belong to the same party.[7] Thus, the president is generally expected to consult with members of the opposite party in the Senate to select members of the commission from the opposite party. The commissioners (including the chairman) vote on selecting the vice chairman, who becomes acting chairman if the chairman’s term ends upon resignation or expiration.[8]

Current commissioners[edit]

Photo of all five members of the CPSC in front of the hearing room dais at CPSC headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland
Members of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2018: (Left to Right) Peter Feldman, Dana Baiocco, Ann Marie Buerkle, Robert Adler, and Elliot Kaye
Name Position Party Appointed by Sworn in Term expires
Ann Marie Buerkle Acting Chairman Republican Barack Obama June 2013 October 27, 2018[9]
Robert S. Adler Commissioner Democratic August 2009 October 27, 2021[10]
Elliot F. Kaye July 2014 October 27, 2020[11]
Dana Baiocco Republican Donald Trump June 2018 October 27, 2024[12]
Peter Feldman October 5, 2018 October 27, 2026


The CPSC regulates the manufacture and sale of more than 15,000 different consumer products, from cribs to all-terrain vehicles. Products excluded from the CPSC's jurisdiction include those specifically named by law as under the jurisdiction of other federal agencies; for example, on-road automobiles are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, guns are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.


The CPSC fulfills its mission by banning dangerous consumer products, establishing safety requirements for other consumer products, issuing recalls of products already on the market, and researching potential hazards associated with consumer products.[13]


The CPSC makes rules about consumer products when it identifies a consumer product hazard that is not already addressed by an industry voluntary consensus standard, or when Congress directs it to do so. Its rules can specify basic design requirements, or they can amount to product bans, as in the case of small high-powered magnets, which the CPSC attempted to ban.[14] For certain infant products, the CPSC regulates even when voluntary standards exist.[15] The CPSC is required to follow a rigorous, scientific process to develop mandatory rules. Failing to do so can justify the revocation of a rule, as was the case in a Tenth Circuit decision vacating the CPSC's ban on small high-powered magnets.[16]

Information gathering & information sharing[edit]

The CPSC learns about unsafe products in several ways. The agency maintains a consumer hotline through which consumers may report concerns about unsafe products or injuries associated with products. Product safety concerns may also be submitted through SaferProducts.gov The agency also operates the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a probability sample of about 100 hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms. NEISS collects data on consumer product related injuries treated in ERs and can be used to generate national estimates.

The agency also works with and shares information with other governments, both in the U.S. (with states and public health agencies) and with international counterparts.[17]

Publicity & communications[edit]

Mannequin targeted in CPSC Fireworks Safety Demonstration 2017

The CPSC works on a variety of publicity campaigns to raise awareness of safety. For example, annually, the CPSC blows up mannequins to demonstrate the dangers of improper use of fireworks.[18][19]


Since February 2015, the average civil penalty has been $2.9 million.[20] In April 2018, Polaris Industries agreed to pay a record $27.25 million civil penalty for failing to report defective off-road vehicles.[21]

Industry-sponsored travel controversy[edit]

On November 2, 2007, the Washington Post reported that between 2002 and the date of their report, former chairman Hal Stratton and current commissioner and former acting chairman Nancy Nord had taken more than 30 trips paid for by manufacturing groups or lobbyists representing industries that are under the supervision of the agency. According to the Post, the groups paid for over $60,000 travel and related expenses during this time.[22]

Funding and staff[edit]

In 1972 when the agency was created, it had a budget of $34.7 million and 786 staff members. By 2008 it had 401 employees on a budget of $43 million, but the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed in 2008 increases funding $136.4 million in 2014 with full-time employees to at least 500 by 2013.[23] Funding dropped to $127 million as of the commission’s fiscal year 2019 appropriation[24], and it continues to have slightly more than 500 employees.[25]

Mid-2000s reform following the “Year of the Recall”[edit]

The year 2007 was called the “Year of the Recall” by some CPSC-watchers in the United States. The CPSC worked with manufacturers and importers on a record 473 voluntary recalls that year,[23] and other U.S. federal agencies promoted other widely noted recalls. CPSC recalls included many incidents with lead in toys and other children’s products.

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008[edit]

These issues led to the legislative interest in the reform of the agency, and the final result of these efforts was the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008. The bill increased funding and staffing for the CPSC, placed stricter limits on lead levels in children’s products (redefined from products intended for children age seven and under to children age twelve and under), restricted certain phthalates in children's toys and child care articles, and required mandatory testing and certification of applicable products. The Danny Keysar Child Product Notification Act required the CPSC to create a public database of recalled products and to provide consumers with a postage-paid postcard for each durable infant or toddler product. This act was named after Danny Keysar, who died in a recalled crib.[23] Danny’s parents, Linda E. Ginzel and Boaz Keysar, founded Kids In Danger and were instrumental in working with the CPSC to strengthen product safety standards.

Creation of public database[edit]

The public database (saferproducts.gov), constructed at a cost of around US$3 million and launched in March 2011, “publicizes complaints from virtually anyone who can provide details about a safety problem connected with any of the 15,000 kinds of consumer goods regulated by the CPSC.”[26] While lauded by consumer advocates for making previously hidden information available, manufacturers have expressed their concern “that most of the complaints are not first vetted by the CPSC before they are made public,” meaning it could be abused and potentially used to target specific brands.[26] As of mid-April 2011, the database was accruing about 30 safety complaints per day.[26] By June 2018, the database had 36,544 reports, with an average of approximately 13.74 reports filed each day.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Contact Information". CPSC.gov. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  2. ^ "15 U.S. Code § 2051 - Congressional findings and declaration of purpose". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  3. ^ Nord, Nancy (September 30, 2013). "Statement on the Commission's decision to adopt a safety standard for bassinets and cradles, 16 C.F.R. part 1218" (PDF). CPSC. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Contact Information". CPSC.gov. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "Consumer Product Safety Commission: Better Data Needed to Help Identify and Analyze Potential Hazards". GAO Reports. U.S. General Accounting Office. n.3. October 23, 1997. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  6. ^ 15 U.S.C. § 2053(a).
  7. ^ 15 U.S.C. § 2053(c)[1].
  8. ^ "CPSC Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle Elected Vice Chair; CPSC under Regulatory Freeze | Ad Law Access". Ad Law Access. January 23, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  9. ^ "Ann Marie Buerkle". CPSC.gov. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  10. ^ "Robert Adler". CPSC.gov. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  11. ^ "Elliot F. Kaye". CPSC.gov. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  12. ^ "PN1358 - Nomination of Dana Baiocco for Consumer Product Safety Commission, 115th Congress (2017-2018)". www.congress.gov. May 22, 2018. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  13. ^ "About CPSC". U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  14. ^ "After death and recalls, feds ban high-powered magnets". CBS News. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  15. ^ "Statement on the Commission's decision to adopt a safety standard for bassinets and cradles, 16 C.F.R. part 1218" (PDF). Cpsc.gov. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  16. ^ Zen Magnets v. CPSC, 841 F.3d 1,141 (10th Cir. 2016).
  17. ^ Tenenbaum, Inez (November 12, 2012). "Statement at press event launching Global Recalls Web Portal, OECD, Brussels, Belgium". CPSC.gov. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  18. ^ Bump, Philip (July 3, 2017). "Analysis - The government's annual mannequin murders, ranked" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
  19. ^ U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (June 30, 2017), CPSC Fireworks Safety Demonstration 2017, retrieved June 6, 2018
  20. ^ "CPSC Civil Penalties: A Statistical Analysis". February 16, 2017.
  21. ^ "Polaris Agrees to Pay $27.25 Million Civil Penalty for Failure to Report Defective Recreational Off-Road Vehicles". April 2, 2018.
  22. ^ Williamson, Elizabeth (November 2, 2007). "Industries Paid for Top Regulators' Travel". Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2007.
  23. ^ a b c Flaherty E. (2008). Safety First: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Loy. Consumer L. Rev..
  24. ^ Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, div. D, tit. V, Pub. L. 116–6, https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-joint-resolution/31/text (Feb. 15, 2019), accessed May 10, 2019.
  25. ^ Strategic Plan 2018–2022 (PDF). Bethesda, Maryland, United States: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 2018. p. 9. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  26. ^ a b c Lyndsey Layton (April 14, 2011). "Consumer database escapes budget ax". Washington Post. Post Politics. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  27. ^ "SaferProducts.gov Puts Power into the Hands of the Consumer · Consumer Federation of America". Consumer Federation of America. August 20, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2019.

External links[edit]